This morning I took the usual route through the centre of Bristol, past the old Bridewell Police Station, cut through by The Lanes, up to the top of Corn Street, over Bristol Bridge and then down Victoria street.
But, cycling into work this morning something felt different. It felt like something might happen. Something unusual and exciting, which is pretty rare for a Monday morning. This is the lingering effect of Igfest, Bristol’s interesting games festival, which Dan and I took part in on Saturday, along with a few hundred other people.
It was a frantic, at times chaotic, scramble to gather enough points to escape to a boat, whilst doing shady deals in dingy pubs with dubious characters, all masterminded by a mysterious artificial intelligence that pulled the strings ingeniously using mobile phones to manipulate the players.
It was a lot of fun and by the time we ended up on the losers boat, heading back to Castle Park to check out the fringe games,we had worked up quite a thirst and quite a sweat.
We went to igfest to have fun and we did, but we were also curious about what we could discover that was relevant to learning. To be honest I felt quite jealous of the game designers. They were apparently unhindered by learning objectives or SMEs or educational policies. They make games that are fun, exciting, challenging, scary, silly, ambitious, simple. Whatever they feel like. There are no boundaries, they let there imaginations go wild. How often do we do that in learning design? Why is most elearning so dull? Because it lacks imagination, as designers many of us are too timid or dull to try something different.
The execution of Cargo wasn’t perfect, some of the game stations didn’t work as slickly as they could have. We had trouble at the start because half of our team didn’t turn up at the right start point. But did this ruin it for us, did we go and ask for our money back? No because we were still having too much fun to care, we were in the game and those were just extra mechanics to adjust to, we just wanted to play.
I believe we need to focus more effort on creating memorable experiences and spend less time worrying about the LMS and other near useless junk. We should be on the side of the learner, we should be inspiring them with our creativity and ideas, not crushing them with “read this, click next, congratulations you are compliant.”
Let’s be brave, let’s be bold and let’s be playful.